Court orders Trinidad’s health ministry to pay legal costs in COVID-19 vaccine information case

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago has been ordered by a court to pay legal costs to a civil and human rights group that brought a lawsuit against it for information on the adverse reports of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.

The action was filed against the ministry by Umar Abdullah, the leader of First Wave Movement.

High Court Judge Justice Frank Seepersad said the information sought by Abdullah was important in the public’s interest and should have been provided by the ministry.

He said that it was important for citizens to know the possible risks associated with the vaccines so that they can make informed decisions in deciding to subject themselves to the jab.

The Ministry of Health did not put in an appearance at the February 6 hearing although the State had been served with the court’s previous orders when leave was granted for the claim.

The ministry was ordered to pay TT$17,500 in costs because only some of the information sought by Abdullah was provided after he filed his lawsuit.

On October 10, 2023, Abdullah said he embarked on a project to get information on COVID-19 vaccines and asked for the total number of adverse reports of the vaccines; a list of all the reports identifying specific concerns – for example, blood clots, headaches, stroke and heart attack –; the number of people who died because of the vaccine; and copies of all reports sent to vaccine manufacturers, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

He said during the COVID-19 pandemic Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry’s system to address the reporting of adverse events of COVID-19 vaccines was the online Events Supposedly Attributable to Vaccines and Immunisations (ESAVI).

On January 16, the ministry, in its response, said the total number of adverse reports made to ESAVI up to August 10, 2023, was 50.

It also provided a breakdown of the signs and symptoms.

There were also zero deaths as a result of the vaccine.

They included body pain, nerve pain, weakness, heavy, irregular, longer menstrual periods and later periods; pronounced pre-menstrual symptoms; heart palpitations; severe coughing; increased pulse and blood pressure; pain at the injection point; twitching of the face; muscle spasms and pain; joint pain; tingling of the hands and feet; fevers; shortness of breath; and headaches.

An epileptic patient reported increased seizures.

The ministry said it did not have the number of people who recovered from any adverse effect nor did it have reports sent to the manufacturers, PAHO, or the WHO.

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